A NEW competitors’ Service Park location with free entry will be only one of many fresh highlights for spectators at Coates Hire Rally Australia next September.
A new course for the nighttime Super Special Stage will be confirmed soon and spectators will be offered simplified ticket choices for a revised range of viewing points with improved facilities, Event Manager David Catchpole said today when announcing the Service Park will move to the C.ex Coffs International Stadium at Coffs Harbour for the next two years.
While a number of changes will add value to spectator tickets, Mr Catchpole said one of the biggest attractions at the 11-14 September rally would be the entry of Australia’s leading international driver Chris Atkinson for the new Hyundai factory team.
“Hyundai Motorsport’s recent confirmation that Chris will be behind the wheel of a Hyundai i20 WRC for his first run in his home event since 2006 is a major boost for Coates Hire Rally Australia,” he said.
“Just as Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship and Casey Stoner in MotoGP have provided a focus for Australian fans, our own Chris Atkinson now will carry the hopes of many in the FIA World Rally Championship.
“Atko is among the elite few who drive a factory-backed car in the world’s premier rally series. He’ll have his first start for Hyundai in Rally Mexico next week and then we’ll watch his progress in selected events until he lines up on the Coffs Coast in September.
“Of course, we also hope there will be other Australian-based drivers aiming up to test themselves against the internationals, including Coffs Harbour’s Nathan Quinn who scored an outstanding ninth place last year.”
Mr Catchpole said other important developments since the 2013 Rally Australia had included –
• Approval to run the event on an annual cycle in 2014, ensuring continuity of spectator support, staff, sponsors, contractors, logistical arrangements and other key elements
• Winning the first FIA Institute Achievement of Excellence for environmental sustainability awarded to a motorsport event anywhere in the world
• Re-signing Opal Cove Resort on the Coffs Coast as official Event Headquarters
• Winning an award as Coffs Harbour’s Community Event of the Year
• Hiring more locally-resident staff to work in community relations, sporting organisation and communications
An all-new website with more social media activity will be launched shortly.
Mr Catchpole said the Coffs Coast would host an FIA World Rally Championship at its strongest level of activity in years.
“This season we have four brands – Volkswagen, Citroen, Ford and Hyundai – contesting the Manufacturers Championship for very high stakes, while there is some fantastic new driving talent such as ex-Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica to challenge the regulars,” he said.
“Hundreds of millions of television viewers around the world will see live coverage of the rounds and the exposure for host regions such as the Coffs Coast will be immense.”